We have recently become involved in a project to support parents and children in preparing for the journey to school. We initially thought this was all about the children, but having spoken to several schools it seems it’s as much about the parents as it is the children – who knew! So the project has taken a turn in that direction.
The other side of the project though, is considering moderation between schools and settings. This has highlighted something that has been a longstanding issue within our sector and that is namely the one of our early years assessments being accepted and respected by the school sector. The project has highlighted this locally and many schools tell us our judgements are off the mark – so are we really getting it so wrong as an early years sector?
After all we are being judged by Ofsted using the same Common Inspection Framework, we are working with the same Early Years Foundation Stage framework and the same Early Learning Goals – so how come these discrepancies seem to occur?
I must say we have found the schools difficult to engage in this process, and perhaps this is where the issue lies. Unless we are having open conversations and meetings about expectations of our children with our local schools, how can we possibly know what they are looking for specifically when each child starts school. There is a rather open-ended view in many settings about what school readiness is all about but what this project has revealed is that, although the alignment is not hugely different, there are some quite subtle differences in how we view and measure children’s abilities and also what the schools consider we should be concentrating on in the early years. This is most likely to be different for each school but this is where some form of moderation and communication comes into its own.
So if we are to support our children better, and it is as much in the schools interest as it is ours, we need to find a better way both locally and nationally to do this. I certainly think there needs to be some shift from our sector, but it’s not all one way. In fact just two years ago the Ofsted Early Years Annual report 2015 stated ‘schools must do more to support transition’ and perhaps opening up a better dialogue with pre-schools, nurseries and childminders might help. Perhaps schools and settings both need to be more pro-active in running transition and moderation sessions in their locality, not just school visits for the children but for all those who have been involved with the child in their pre-school year, parents included. I know that this does happen in some areas but it’s more hit and miss than a structured policy.
The Ready Steady School project has also allowed us to be able to deliver some FREE training to the early years sector and will also support us producing some useful resources for practitioners. If you are based in any setting that has children attending a Warwickshire school you may be eligible for free training. If you are interested in joining us and think you are eligible then you can Express your interest here.
About the author: Tricia Wellings
Her passion for and knowledge of owning and running a nursery group and the issues within the sector that affect them is second to none. She continues to keep herself updated through regular meetings with PVI groups, Local Authorities, Ofsted Big Conversation and Conferences.
You can find our more about Tricia on her website www.triciawellings.co.uk